CT has received word that the Association for a More Just Society, an evangelical justice ministry in Honduras, is facing a critical court trial on Wednesday.
AJS has long defended labor rights for poor Hondurans, to the extent that lawyer Dionisio Díaz García was murdered in 2006. Now one targeted Honduran company, SETECH, has sued the ministry for slander. AJS co-founder Kurt Ver Beek, a CT contributor on short-term missions, is facing the charges on behalf of the ministry.
The verdict will not only be a litmus test of the fairness of Honduras' court system, but could also wipe out AJS in Honduras.
Links and quotes after the jump....
From Abram Huyser Honig, AJS's director of operations:
Next Wednesday, February 24, Asociación para una Sociedad más Justa will be taken to trial in a Honduran court because SETECH, one of the companies whose workers Dionisio defended, and the company that reacted most negatively and aggressively to his labor rights efforts, claims an ad run by ASJ summarizing Ministry of Labor findings about the company's labor rights abuses constitutes slander. It's a classic case of oppressors trying to bend the law to their own purposes to legitimize their unjust activities–in this case, continued labor rights abuses.
We believe this trial is important not only for ASJ – if SETECH wins, it could seek huge financial reparations in an attempt to wipe out our efforts in Honduras – but also for Honduras as a whole, since it is a litmus test for whether Honduran courts will allow violent, powerful oppressors to use libel laws to silence legitimate free speech on behalf of some of God's poorest and most vulnerable children.
You can read the full press release here: www.ajs-us.org/enough
Past CT coverage of AJS includes the organization's reaction to last summer's military "coup" and resulting political crisis and the 2006 assassination of Díaz García while supporting labor rights for impoverished security guards.